Master Class
What Does A Wedding Photographer Do On A European Vacation? Take Wedding Photos Of Course!

When I began photographing weddings professionally in 1947 I never would have believed that I would have a studio in Switzerland in the '70s. I also never would have believed that I would have the opportunity to photograph a wedding in Paris, of all places, in the 21st century! Well, not exactly in Paris, but a few miles beyond the Paris borders in the small town of Marie.

I was the guest of Serge Laurent, one of Paris' top portrait and wedding photographers and color lab owners. He's actually located in Vitry, a small suburb of Paris. We had met many years earlier in London at a convention and have been friends ever since. A few months ago I was his guest in France after being on tour teaching in England and Ireland. That Saturday he invited me to go along to a wedding with him. What a fun opportunity, I thought. No one would know who I am and I could just have fun.

So, without saying a word I became just another one of the guests taking pictures from the side (...and you can believe me, there were many!) as Laurent, the professional, did his job.

Getting The Wide View
We arrived a few minutes before 9am, just as the bride and groom were pulling up to the front of the church in a hired convertible limousine. The tiny town was exquisitely beautiful. I felt as if I were in a movie set. With my 17-35mm wide angle lens I backed away from the church to show the detail of the street in the foreground.

I corrected the distortion of the church later in Photoshop by doing Edit/Free Transform. I darkened the sky by selecting the church with the magnetic lasso, inverting the selection and working in Levels.

All Photos © 2005, Monte Zucker, All Rights Reserved.

Using The Small Built-In Flash
I had no idea of what to expect, so I stayed in the background and watched as the panorama progressed in front of me. The bride and groom remained in the car while everyone greeted them and then went to be seated inside the church. I entered, too, and got a chance to photograph the couple as they waited outside the church door to proceed together down the aisle.

I had no flash with me, other than the built-in flash on the camera. I set everything on Automatic and let the camera figure out the exposure. As you can see, the flash worked wonders. It was enough to give me great detail in the heavily backlit situation and retain detail in the bright background. I looked at the back of the camera and wanted to give my camera a kiss. It was right-on!

Light Balance
As is everywhere, there were countless cameras snapping away as the bride and groom walked arm-in-arm down the aisle. The classic, processional music was just as it is in America. I photographed the services from many angles, having had no objection from the person conducting the services. I had the time to do custom white balances with my ExpoDisc in the church.

The view from the back of the church had an extreme lighting ratio from bright, direct sunlight coming through windows at the top of the church to very dark areas deep within the church. I balanced the lighting in Photoshop by creating an adjustment layer in Photoshop's Levels and adjusting the various light and dark areas, so that they would all print in detail.

The view of the guests seated was cropped to show how I would do this as a panorama for an album, stretching the photograph across two pages. I made it with my wide angle 17-35mm lens using all available light.

The Family Grouping
After the ceremony it's typical in Europe to pose all the family group photos in front of the church. Laurent arranged all the groups nicely so that he (and all of us) could copy what he was doing.

Here he is with his Canon digital camera in front of the other photographers. Guess it's the same all over the world. I would have loved to posed them in the middle of the open area with the whole church showing behind them, but everything was pretty rushed, as it was getting hotter and hotter and everyone was anxious to get out of the bright sun.